DVD quick takes

A Very Long Engagement (2004) 4.5/5

A wonderful and beautifully filmed French movie that reunites the star (Audrey Tautou) and director (Jean-Pierre Jeunet) of Amélie (which I admit not having seen). A Very Long Engagement somehow manages to combine the horrors of World War I with a mystery and a story of love, hope and devotion. Tautou plays Mathilde, who refuses to believe that her fiancée died during the war. He was one of five French soldiers sentenced to be executed by being forced into no man’s land after being convicted of self-mutilation to avoid duty. After the war, Mathilde launches her own investigation into whether he or any of the other soldiers survived. The movie includes a performance (in French) by Jodie Foster as the wife of a close friend and fellow soldier of one of the five condemned men.

Children Underground (2001) 3/5

This documentary tells the story of a group of homeless children living in a subway station in Bucharest, Romania. Runaways from both orphanages and families and all largely addicted to paint huffing, the film is unique in that it actually interviews the family members of three of the children. The kids, ranging in age from 8 to 16, are among an estimated 20,000 on the streets of Romania, supposedly due to the fact the country’s late dictator, Nicolai Ceausescu, banned contraception and abortion. Although Oscar-nominated for best documentary and winner of a special jury prize in that category at the Sundance Film Festival, I couldn’t help but think an equally compelling film could be made of homeless children in the United States.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (2005) 2.5/5

This DVD had two strikes going against it to begin with. One, even though he participated in the screenplay, it is almost impossible to adequately translate to film Douglas Adams’ book of the same name. Second, that said, this movie had to compete with the BBC television series based on the book. While this DVD has the advantage of greater technology for special effects, it couldn’t compete against the longer BBC television series. Thus, this effort falls short enough to rate below average.

Inside Deep Throat (2005) 3/5

Although rated NC-17, don’t plan on picking up this DVD if your interest is solely seeing the sexual acts that gave rise to its notoriety or the filming of those acts. Sure, the most notable scene and others are there as necessary to allow this documentary to tell its story. But the real focus here is to put the movie in cultural perspective and tell of its impact on the people involved. While it tends to skim the surface of some issues, this documentary provides some worthy insight into a movie that cost $25,000 to make, was banned in 23 states, grossed $600 million and became a cultural phenomenon.

All I could think was what she (Linda Lovelace) was doing was so unique that I could build a whole film around it.

Deep Throat Director Gerard Damiano, Inside Deep Throat

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